Going to the movies can be an expensive pastime, with ticket prices averaging around $9 per movie in the US. However, movie theater subscription passes are aiming to make big screen entertainment more affordable and accessible. These subscription programs allow you to watch unlimited movies in theaters for one monthly fee, often less than the price of a single ticket.
Movie subscription services first gained popularity with MoviePass, which launched in 2011. While MoviePass ultimately proved unsustainable, it demonstrated consumer demand for more economical options to enjoy films on the big screen. Now several movie theater chains and independent startups offer their own subscription passes.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros, cons, and key differences between the top movie theater subscription options available today. Discover how you can watch movies for cheap without compromising on the cinematic experience.
Overview of Movie Theater Subscription Passes
Movie theater subscription programs allow you to pay a flat monthly rate to see unlimited movies in theaters. Prices typically range from $10-$25 per month.
The subscriptions function similar to Netflix or gym memberships. You pay one recurring fee for unlimited access during that period. There are no per-movie charges or other hidden fees.
Most services allow you to see one 2D movie per day. You can watch the same film repeatedly or view different movies. Premium plans add 3D, IMAX, and other perks.
Subscriptions are contract-free with simple month-to-month or annual pricing. You can often pause or cancel anytime. Family plans are also available to cover multiple people.
The subscriptions provide an affordable way to enjoy the magic of movies on the big screen as often as you want. Even just 2-3 movies per month can provide significant savings over single tickets.
Top Movie Theater Subscription Services
While there are numerous options for movie subscriptions today, several major brands stand out:
AMC Stubs A-List
As the largest theater chain in the US, AMC Theatres offers the most extensive subscription program via AMC Stubs A-List. You get unlimited movies at any AMC location, including premium formats like IMAX and Dolby Cinema. Other perks include free upgrades, no online fees, and 10% off concessions.
There are three plan options:
- $19.95 per month – See up to 3 movies per week
- $23.95 per month – See up to 3 movies per week, including IMAX/Dolby Cinema
- $24.95 per month – Family plan covering 2 adults and 2 children
You get standard 2D movies plus discounts on premium formats like 4DX, IMAX, RPX, and ScreenX. Additional perks include 10% off all food and non-alcoholic drinks.
There are four pricing options:
- $18 per month – See unlimited standard format films
- $21 per month – Standard format plus 50 cent discount on premium
- $23.50 per month – Unlimited movies including premium formats
- $27.50 per month – Unlimited family plan for 2 adults and 2 children
Cinemark Movie Club
As America’s third biggest theater chain, Cinemark offers Cinemark Movie Club as their proprietary subscription program. You get one 2D movie ticket per month, with unused tickets rolling over if you skip a month. Additional tickets are $8.99. 20% off concessions is included too.
There’s just one pricing tier at $9.99 per month. You can add additional household members for $9.99 per person.
Alamo Season Pass
Alamo Drafthouse operates a popular regional chain of dine-in movie theaters. Their subscription is called Alamo Season Pass, providing one regularly priced 2D or 3D movie per day. You also get 10% off food and drinks.
- $14.99 per month – Single location pass
- $24.99 per month – Multi-location pass
Cinepolis Movie Club
For $9.99 per month, you get one 2D movie ticket, 20% off concessions, and waived online fees. Premium formats can be purchased at full price.
MoviePass pioneered the unlimited movie subscription concept, launching in 2011 at a revolutionary $30 per month. But the model proved unsustainable and MoviePass has pivoted to different plans over the years.
Their current offer is two 2D movie tickets per month for $9.95. You can purchase additional tickets in-app. So while no longer unlimited, MoviePass remains a more economical option than single tickets.
Independent Movie Subscription Services
Alongside subscriptions from major theater chains, several independent startups offer affordable movie programs, often partnering with local theaters. Options include:
- MovieClub – $9.99 per month for 3 movie tickets
- Sinemia – $4-$20 per month for 1-3 movie tickets
- MoviePass Groups – Shared group accounts at a lower monthly cost per person
- MovieFLIX Club – $14.99 per month for unlimited movies
- ScreenPass – $14.99 per month for unlimited movies
These provide more flexibility if your preferred theater doesn’t offer its own plan. Discounts are usually included on concessions too.
Key Benefits of Movie Subscription Passes
Movie subscriptions offer a range of benefits that make them an attractive option for frequent moviegoers:
The primary advantage is the savings compared to purchasing individual tickets, especially for heavy users. Even at the lowest $10 monthly price point, just 3-4 movies per month provides major discounts over single tickets at $8-$15 each. Heavy users who watch 10+ films can realize huge savings of 50% or more.
While most plans today limit you to 1-3 movies per week, it still enables virtually unlimited access for a light to moderate moviegoer. The freedom to watch a different movie every day without worrying about the cost can make it a no-brainer option.
Movie subscriptions provide a simple, convenient way to watch films. Once enrolled, you can just show up and see movies on a whim without needing to purchase tickets each time. Some services integrate with theater chain apps and websites for easy digital access.
Upgraded plans with certain subscription services allow you to watch premium movies in IMAX, 3D, Dolby Cinema, etc. This provides an affordable way to enjoy blockbuster films in the best formats without paying the surcharges you would for single tickets.
Almost all movie subscriptions offer extra incentives beyond just tickets. Most provide 10-20% discount on concessions, helping save money on snacks and drinks. Some also waive online/convenience fees that theaters might otherwise charge.
Nearly all movie subscription programs allow you to cancel anytime without long-term commitments or early termination fees. This provides flexibility to pause or end your membership as needed depending on your viewing frequency.
Potential Drawbacks to Consider
While movie subscriptions can provide exceptional value under the right circumstances, there are some potential disadvantages to factor as well:
You have to pay the full monthly subscription cost regardless of how many movies you actually watch. For very light moviegoers, single tickets on an as-needed basis may prove cheaper (though less convenient).
Limited Movie Selection
Not every movie theater participates in subscription programs. Independent/art-house cinemas and smaller chains often don’t offer plans. So movie selection can be narrower compared to just purchasing individual tickets anywhere.
During peak periods like opening weekends, high-demand movies may require surcharges above your subscription rate. There may also be limits on viewing newly released films.
Premium Format Restrictions
Lower-tier subscriptions only include standard 2D movies. You’ll need to pay surcharges for IMAX, 3D, etc, reducing some of the value. Upgraded subscriptions cost more but remove this limitation.
Long-Term Value Uncertain
Because they are still a relatively new phenomenon, the long-term sustainability of movie subscriptions remains uncertain. We can’t predict whether pricing and features will change significantly down the road.
Theater Chain Dependence
If you rely solely on one theater chain’s subscription service, you are dependent on them staying in business and not discontinuing their program. An independent provider may offer more longevity.
5 Key Factors in Choosing a Movie Subscription
With the proliferation of movie subscription options, choosing the right service for your needs requires comparing some key variables:
1. Theater Coverage
The most important factor is making sure the subscription includes the specific theater(s) you actually visit. Research which cinemas and chains are supported in your area and how far you’d need to travel for access.
2. Price Per Movie
Calculate your personal “price-per-movie” based on how often you realistically go each month. A $20 unlimited deal sounds great until you realize you only see 5 movies a month, making single tickets cheaper. Run the math for your habits.
3. Format Flexibility
Determine whether you’ll want to watch premium IMAX, Dolby and 3D formats or whether standard 2D is fine. Choose a service that fits your format preferences.
4. Concession Discounts
Factor any discounts on snacks and drinks into total savings, especially if you frequently buy concessions. Ten percent off a $10 popcorn + drink combo adds up quickly.
5. Cancellation Policy
Review the cancellation and pause terms in case your moviegoing frequency changes. You want the flexibility to scale up or down membership as needed.
Comparing the Top Movie Subscription Services
To help choose the best movie deal, here’s a detailed side-by-side comparison of the top subscription options:
| Service | Price | Movies Per Month | Premium Formats | Concessions Discount | Cancellation Policy |
| AMC Stubs A-List | $19.95-$24.95 | 3-12 per month | Included on premium plan | 10% | Cancel anytime |
| Regal Unlimited | $18-$27.50 | Unlimited | 50 cent discount | 10% | Cancel anytime |
| Cinemark Movie Club | $9.99 | 1 ticket monthly | Full price | 20% | Cancel anytime |
| Alamo Season Pass | $14.99-$24.99 | 1 daily | Included | 10% | Cancel anytime |
| Cinepolis Movie Club | $9.99 | 1 monthly | Full price | 20% | Cancel anytime |
| MoviePass | $9.95 | 2 tickets | Full price | None | Cancel anytime |
As the table illustrates, AMC Stubs A-List provides the best power-user features like IMAX and unlimited movies, but for a higher price. Regal Unlimited offers similar capabilities for a bit less but lacks premium formats. Cinemark Movie Club is better for occasional viewers wanting a more limited program. Overall flexibility and affordability make services like Cinepolis compelling as well. The “best” subscription depends entirely on each person’s preferences and situation.
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6 Frequently Asked Questions About Movie Subscriptions
Movie subscription passes seem almost too good to be true. Considering their low costs and generous terms, it’s understandable if you have some lingering questions about how they work. Here are answers to 6 of the most frequently asked questions:
FAQ 1: Can you really watch unlimited movies?
Answer: Yes, most services do in fact give you unlimited access to regular 2D movies. The limits are on premium formats (typically just 1-2 of those per week). There are also restrictions on brand new releases during the opening weekend. But otherwise you can watch as many films as you want. A handful of plans cap you at 1 movie per day.
FAQ 2: Can you book tickets in advance or do you have to walk up?
Answer: Most subscriptions allow you to book movies online in advance so you can ensure access to a specific showing. There may be a slight convenience fee for doing this online instead of just walking up directly to the cinema. Planning ahead via online ticketing is highly recommended, especially in the evenings and for big releases.
FAQ 3: How do you choose/activate which movie to see with your subscription?
Answer: When booking online or at a kiosk, you’ll choose the movie subscription as your method of payment instead of entering a credit card or reward points. Doing so activates your subscription for that particular film without additional payment needed.
FAQ 4: Can you watch the same movie more than once?
Answer: Generally, yes. Unless specifically restricted, you can re-watch the same movie repeatedly under your subscription plan. Of course, it won’t make much sense to do this too much when you could be watching different films! But for favorites, repeats are usually allowed.
FAQ 5: Can you share or split subscription plans?
Answer: No, individual subscriptions cannot be shared between people or devices. You must pay for a separate subscription for each individual wanting access. However, some services like AMC A-List do offer bundled family plans covering 2-4 people under a single membership.
FAQ 6: Are there any blackout periods where subscriptions won’t work?
Answer: Major releases often have blackout periods during opening weekends where subscriptions can’t be used. Otherwise, your access is unlimited other than for special events. Independent art house theaters showing limited releases may also restrict certain films. But 95%+ of the time any 2D movie is included.
Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your Movie Subscription
To get the most entertainment for your money from a movie ticket subscription service, here are some helpful tactics:
- See weekday matinees – Morning and midday showings on slower weekdays have the lowest theater crowds. Save your subscription for these less popular times.
- Alternate premium formats – Premium movies like IMAX can quickly burn through your monthly allotment. Opt for standard 2D most of the time and sprinkle in the premium options sparingly.
- Watch repeat favorites – No need to always see something new. Subscriptions make it economical to rewatch your most beloved films.
- Don’t overbuy concessions – The concessions discounts aren’t intended for you to increase spending. Stick to your usual snack/drink habits.
- Plan movie marathons – Multiply savings by using your subscription for back-to-back showings. Marathon a full series, director catalog or themed movies.
- See documentaries and indies – Use your subscription allotment for smaller films you’re curious about rather than spending extra on them individually.
Leverage the unlimited basis of most movie subscriptions, while mixing in premium showings occasionally. Limit concessions splurging and avoid peak pricing periods. Employ smart strategies to maximize your moviegoing pleasure!
Make Going to the Movies Fun and Affordable Again
Movie theater subscription passes provide an exciting opportunity for cinema fans to enjoy unlimited big screen entertainment at an economical price. While services have evolved from the early days of MoviePass, the core value remains: pay a simple monthly fee to watch as many films as your schedule and stamina permit!
Selecting the right movie subscription plan means weighing factors like the theater network, number of movies included, premium formats, cancellation policy and overall flexibility. Comparing options to determine the optimal fit for your personal viewing habits can yield major savings over individual tickets.
By making moviegoing affordable again, subscriptions allow you to sit back in a plush seat and escape into cinematic stories without blowing your budget. Now an avid film fan on even the tightest budget can finally watch as many movies as their imagination desires!